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The 2010 IGF Survey: How will influence of intermediaries change things in the next 5 years?

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Researchers from the Imagining the Internet Center conducted a video survey of Global IGF 2010 participants, recording interviews with more than 60 stakeholders from all sectors of society about the evolution of the Internet. Use the video viewer to see their responses. Click on the first video to begin a player that will cycle through all visible on this page or click on those you wish to view. To see additional videos, click on the numbers at the end of the video column to display additional videos – there are dozens more than you see here. The question in this video set was: “Intermediaries are at work as the Internet grows and people seek security, convenience, information filters, and so on. Five years from now will the Internet be more open and accessible, about the same, or less so? Will it be fragmented? How do you see this evolving?”

      Links to 2010 questions: 
      >Q1: Cloud computing
      >Q2: The mobile Internet
      >Q3: Human right?
      >Q4: Influence of intermediaries
      >Q5: Influence of the IGF
      >Q6: Greatest hope for the Internet
      >Q7: Greatest fear for the Internet
      >Q8: Future in 10 seconds

      To get an accurate representation of all responses in full, watch all of the videos. Each clip is brief, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Some respondents gave extended answers; some may be edited for brevity if necessary but the majority should include the full response.

      Most of the people surveyed noted that the open discussions conducted at IGF are important because people can speak freely about the challenges and opportunities of the Internet.

      Print transcript of the comments made in the video on this page:

      Tracy Hackshaw, Internet Society ambassador to IGF from Trinidad & Tobago: I think it’s a mix of all. I do think they have become more open in some ways, certainly more closed in other ways as more countries get involved, as they’re doing today, with blocking off various sites – there’s no freedom of speech. It’s a double-edged sword. As more people are using the Internet they use it for good things, and for not-so-good things – things that governments don’t like. So, you’ll see more of that happening.

      You’re going to get some regulation, that I believe. However, I think it’s also going to also create a new type of Internet – as Google and Verizon showed recently – where you will be able to have sponsored Internet service, I would assume, for free.

      Five years from now I think that there will be segmentation. I also believe that the world will segment on the Internet, that you’ll see maybe the developing world, China perhaps, take a different slant on the Internet as they’ve been wanting to do, and the Americas and, possibly even, Europe. So I think you’re going to see the segmentation, not of the structuring but certainly of the thrust of, the Internet in different geographic regions.

      Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and Internet evangelist for Google: That’s a very interesting question about how this Internet evolves over the next five years or so. I’ve never been very good at making predictions but that doesn’t stop me from having an opinion.

      First of all, I think that more people will have access to the net, maybe that will be facilitated by the mobile center rapidly populating the network environment. I think that many countries are uncomfortable with the freedom of expression that the Internet induces and that discomfort will continue, certainly over the next five years.
      So we will see attempts to try to moderate and limit what people can do and say on the net, and there will be understandable motivations to do that, for example finding ways to eliminate or suppress child pornography is an understandable objective.

      On the other hand, in the United States, anyway, we have this long-standing belief that freedom of expression is so fundamental – we codified it as a First Amendment in our Constitution – and while not all other countries see it the same way, this has been an enormously powerful facilitator of the growth of the economy and the kind of quality of life we have.

      But people get to say things that you don’t necessarily agree with and wish that they hadn’t said. So there are only a small number of places where – at least, the American legislative system says – “You can’t say that.” For the most part you’re free to express yourself, you’re not free to harm other people.

      So if we were to list the various freedoms that we would like to see available in the Internet world – in addition to the freedom of expression and the freedom of access to information – I think keeping people from harm is a very desirable condition. Achieving that is not easy, because we understand a number of different ways in which people can be harmed through the Internet, just as they can be harmed through the postal mail, and the telephone and face-to-face confrontations. So slander, and libel and all the other things that are harmful to people – spam, or pernicious interference, or denial and interference acts, all of these other things – are harms that can be propagated throughout the net. So, as a global community, we have to work together to try to mitigate those potential harms from happening.

      There is no guarantee that you can stop these things, so I would make this observation, that there are only three ways to deal with these problems.

      • The first is to try and prevent them from happening at all, using technical means.

      • The second is to detect that something bad has happened and try to understand who the party is that has performed this harm, caused this hard, and have global legislation which says, “We as a society don’t accept this behavior and there will be consequences if you’re caught.” We can’t guarantee to catch everyone, but if we have a global agreement on certain abuses and we are prepared on a multilateral basis to pursue the perpetrator, then this detection and punishment is the second way of going after the problem.

      • The third way is sort of moral-suasion, we just tell people, “Don’t do that it’s bad,” and, while that sounds very weak in some ways it’s like gravity. Gravity is a very weak thing but when you get enough mass together you get a very powerful force. Moral forces can be quite powerful if they are motivated and acted on in sufficient quantity.
      So those are the three places, the ways, that I think we can mitigate the potential harms.

      Bertrand de La Chapelle, leader in WSIS, member of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, elected to ICANN board: The main evolution of the Internet in the future is that it’s going through a third stage. We had the Internet initially, the infrastructure that allowed e-mail communication; then we moved to the web, which is access to databases; now what it is evolving to is social spaces, social networks, social media, the cloud computing, everything. So it’s becoming, really, cyberspace.

      I cannot make a prediction of whether it will be fragmented or whether it will be more open and so on, that it will be what we project and want it to become. What I believe is that there will be neither a completely unified Internet with the same rules applying absolutely everywhere, but at the same time it shouldn’t be, either, something that is re-nationalized around borders where you re-impose the national framework.

      The challenge is: How do we maintain the creation of virtual territories and virtual spaces that distinguish the private spaces, the semi-public spaces and the fully public spaces with their respective roles, and make sure that we can move seamlessly from one to the next even if they have, let’s say, virtual frontiers.

      So we need to avoid fragmentation but not strive to complete unification and harmonization because it will not happen.

      Alejandro Pisanty, longtime Internet Society, IGF and ICANN leader, National University of Mexico: All of the above, in different ways, and in different places, and for different people and with different layers. “Layers” are a very important aspect of understanding the Internet. So you may have almost universal access to fiber – to the physical layer [of the Internet] – and a country will be happy, or at least a city or a region, and they’ll be happy because every computer has broadband fiber. But you may find that the access to content has been fragmented by content providers or by ISPs and other intermediaries.

      So I think there is no way to forecast one trend for that question.

      Peng Hwa Ang, director, Singapore Internet Research Centre, Nanyang Technological University, longtime Internet governance leader: Access to the Internet is becoming less open. Part of it is the commercial logic to it. Facebook wants its users to communicate amongst themselves, so to get to a message on Facebook or see something posted to you, you need to get onto Facebook, sign up and then read the message that way. There’s a commercial logic to it.

      And then countries also want to wall off part of the Internet for their own reasons. Some of it is terrorism sites, some of it is hate speech, so there are various reasons, some legitimate some legitimate, but countries want to wall off public sites.

      Then there are concerns about security, so there are firewalls coming up for security reasons, which means again, part of this Internet is being walled off. So right now it looks like the Internet is becoming less open and the trend is that it will become even less open down the road.

      Nurani Nimpuno, policy leader with NetNod, Sweden, advisor to Internet Governance Forum: I really hope the Internet model as it is today will be preserved and that means preserving the openness of the Internet. I’m a great supporter of open standards. And I think what has made the Internet so successful today is that it has been open. Anyone who’s interested in participating, be it in Internet resource policies or technology standards, has been able to engage and provide input there. That is what has made the Internet so unique and I hope that that will continue.

      So when it comes to the Internet model and the way it’s governed, I’m hoping that that model – the open Internet model will be preserved. When it comes to the Internet on a broader level, I’m hoping that it will allow the connection of more and more people. It will be part of strengthening the infrastructure in parts of the world that do not have it today.

      Mohamed Ibrahim, project manager for SO CCTLD in Somalia: My own personal view is that it will be more open and there will be more people accessing the Internet. However, I think the trend is pointed in the opposite direction. As more and more people try to exclude others by using, for example, certain cryptic language. Let me rephrase this. If everyone was able to access the Internet with one language, perhaps that would be useful. But obviously it’s not practical.

      So you will have, for example, some people accessing the web in Arabic, or Chinese, or Russian or whatever it might be. That’s good. It means that the Chinese, the Russians, the other people can access the web and information in their own language. On the other hand, it might exclude others. I might now be able to get information from an Arab country, or from Russia, or from China if it’s strictly in one language I can understand. That might not be the case if this fragmentation continues.

      This is too complicated, it’s not easy to explain, but again that’s a personal view. I think it would be nice if more information was available but also in a way that anyone can access. But if we say, “X society can get this, and Y can get this and Z can get this,” then all of a sudden we are segmenting and we are breaking down what was a really good model, which was making everything available.

      But having said that, there are limitations, we don’t all speak the same language we don’t all understand the same communication. We will wait and see, but personally it will be more open.

      Jyrki Kasvi, member of Parliament, Finland, representing the Green League: It can be anything of those three, actually [more open accessible, about the same or less so]. It depends very much on which kinds of decisions [are made], both political decisions, these companies doing decisions, and how people’s behavior changes. I think there will be forces in both directions so as a result it will be about the same. But there are big reasons for fragmentation, because there are countries like China and many Arabic countries that are frustrated because of this lassiez-faire culture of the web, which I’m very much protecting myself, as a politician.

      And there is also this kind of – not only geographical fragmentation – but also this kind of, let’s say, global fragmentation. I’m talking, for example, about these new search engines. There is a search engine for Christians there is a search engine for devout Muslims. So you are accessing only a part of the web. It makes it quite weird, in my worldview.

      Lisa Horner, head of research and policy at Global Partners & Associates, UK: I think it depends on the conversations we have in forums like the Internet Governance Forum here. No one really knows what’s happening. I think there are some negative trends towards fragmentation towards more-closed models of the Internet than we’ve seen in the past. But I also think there is a big drive to address some of these issues and to protect and maintain the openness of the Internet. So I think that the onus is on us to make that difference, to engage in these debates, to really ensure that we continue to foster an Internet that is open, and that is empowering and liberating.

      Garland McCoy, founder of the Technology Policy Institute, US: Unfortunately, I see the trend going in, sort of, the balkanization, if you will, or the potential of it going toward Internet islands. I think that you’re seeing that. We already have that, in large part, with China, the Middle East. You have that recently with the BlackBerry where countries are demanding the code off of the servers there in Canada because it’s encrypted.

      So as more and more countries and regions, for a variety of different internal concerns, begin to build their firewalls or to direct traffic through these servers, [for various reasons,] whether it be alcohol or provocatively dressed women – you know in certain parts of the world a provocatively dressed, independent , educated woman is [seen as] a threat to the culture.

      Unfortunately, I see some real red flags out there in these areas and the technology is enabling these countries, in large measure, to do that. On the other hand, as I explained, on the wireless side then there’s an out.

      The challenge going forward is the desire of the states and regions to create these islands. I think the counterpull to that is going to be that the empowerment of the individual through these technologies – the phone, the challenges that IPv6 has with regard to the servers and firewalls – I think it’s going to be very much a back and forth. Again, it just concerns me that we are moving in this direction where there’s a movement to begin to build these walls.

      Judy Okite, consultant for FOSSFA at the West African IGF: Five years from now? I can’t even think about it. Will it be more open? Yes it will be. It will be more open and not secure. The more open it becomes the more insecure it will become with it.

      Mireille Raad, freelance software developer, Lebanon: More people will be on the Internet, that’s for sure, because the networks are expanding, everyone’s getting connected. It’s a good business model, so companies are pushing for it, governments are pushing for it. More people, eventually, will be connected. We’re battling over content now. People are putting their content on and not monetizing it. So if you see, for example, some big magazines are starting to have paid content. I think there should be some big changes because we need trusted content. There’s going to be drastic changes. I think people will no longer agree on their personal data being shared and sold. So maybe if you don’t want your content to be paid for some services. I think that people may start to have the tendency to pay for stuff in order to protect their privacy and their data. Because now it’s free, but you don’t have protected data. Maybe we can see if this will work.

      Juan Carlos Solines Moreno, Solines & Associates, Ecuador: The Internet is not a fixed thing. It’s a thing of evolution, I think, very dynamic. The pace at which technology is advancing is very very fast and it is difficult to foresee what is going to be happening in the next five years in terms of technology. However, I think that these spaces like the IGF provide us with the opportunity to see what the trends and what the emerging issues are. So we are getting prepared.

      So I think that in the next five years it will create awareness in many regions of the world about the importance of privacy and data protection, which is not known by now, is not in the culture of many legal systems around the world. It is not in their legal culture, data protection and privacy. I think that these discussions will create awareness. So probably in the next five years there are going to be a lot of changes in local legislation, in regulation.

      Convergence is also a huge trend that will create spaces for reform, and, of course, the development of technology per se. The lowering of costs of access will be huge also. The trend of mobile Internet access is very, very important as well for the next five years. In Latin America, particularly, by 2014 there is going to be an increase 42-fold [increase] in mobile Internet users. That’s a huge number. So interesting things are going to happen in the next five years.

      Indre Sabaliunaite, intern for the European Parliament: I think that it will be more open, I certainly hope that it will be more open. Maybe in some countries, such as China for example, they have a lot of sites that are blocked. For example, my friend had an internship there, and he actually had to film himself and post a video somehow so that they could see it, but he had a very hard time figuring out how because he couldn’t do it on YouTube he couldn’t do it on Facebook. So there’s a lot of problems with it, so in places like that I hope it becomes more open because it’s very important. But I think that some governments might want to close it off a little bit too because it does create problems. If it is more open for us, then it is more open for people like terrorists. It’s a very big challenge, I think.

      Hanane Boujemi, DiploFoundation, Malta: The evolution of Internet – I suppose, that all of us here are pushing for a more open Internet, a more available Internet and a more safe Internet at the same time.

      We definitely during the last five years of IGF, all of these issues were picked up all of these issues were pulled up to the surface. The most important component, in my opinion, is to try to create a balance between all of these elements which are key to have access to Internet. So the evolution, the way, the future, as I see it now, is obviously an open Internet, a reliable Internet, an accessible Internet and I don’t see any way to step back and be where we were, for example, 20 years ago or 10 years ago.

      If you compare your life with back in 1990 or 2000s even, it looks and it sounds different because there is a new element now that came into your life and you don’t imagine that the Internet will evolve to become negative you just expect the Internet to improve and to develop in a way that will give the opportunity to more people to improve their lives, to give the opportunity to countries to improve their standards, and to give the opportunity, as well, to education, to access to information, to availability of information as well. I can see only the positive coming out from the Internet if we use it for lucrative reasons, if we use it properly, if we use it in the correct way.

      Andrew Mack, founder, AMGlobal Consulting, US: I guess you could say I was the chief moderator for the Internet Islands Panel at IGF USA, so I can tell you from the research that we did to prepare for it there are already some ways that the unitary Internet as we know it and as we have known it historically is being “islandized,” if you will.

      That said, it is clearly not our goal. Everyone benefits to the extent that there is one open playing field that we can all get on. Imagine if my e-mail wouldn’t reach you or if we had to have some sort of an agreement between our e-mail providers. It makes no sense. So I think that there is some possibility for islandization. We identified four reasons. Part of it might be as a result of non-democratic governments who want to suppress data, suppress opposition. There are people who are trying to do it because they want to preserve their culture, and they’re concerned it is going to die out. There are firms that want to bring their customers closer to them and also people who are concerned about security. All of those are understandable phenomena. But I am hoping that the net will probably be about like it is five years from now. I think it is hard to say that it could be much more open than it is now.

      Pablo Molina, associate VP of IT and Campus CIO at Georgetown University, US: I think we are all working on different scenarios here. Whether there will be Internet islands or the governments will rule and everything else. This will be resolved mostly in the United States, because the key players are within the United States.

      The discussion between Google and Verizon on the ability of coming out with tiered Internet will be critical. It will be critical, not because other countries have to follow, but certainly other countries will pay attention to that deal and many of the telecomm and content providers in those countries, for example in Spain and Vietnam, will give it a try. Trying to emulate whatever happens in the United States.

      So to be honest, nobody knows. My guess is, and this is hard to understand, that it will be both. I think that there will be a more official Internet, per-pay Internet that is going to work better with less openness and a higher price tag and there will be sort of an undercover or underground Internet that will be less reliable but will continue to be the source of the innovation and creativity that we see today.

      Alissa Morvan, ChildNet, UK: I’m hoping it’s more open and a lot more accessible because I live in a very rural area and I can’t get the Internet very easily, it’s so slow. So I really hope that it’s going to be a lot more accessible. And in a way, I hope that it’s more open so you can’t get stopped for going into a website that is actually fine, and free and there is nothing bad on there.

      Cristos Velasco, founder and director general of NACPEC, Mexico: Well I would say in developed countries it will be pretty much the same as it is now. But in developing countries, and especially countries where there is a lot of censorship, the Internet will be fragmented and it will be under government control. And chances are that the governments will be controlling most of the content that is going through their networks and is available to the citizens.

      Fernando Botelho, F123.org, Brazil: Well there are too many powerful players, and there I include a few private-sector players and quite a lot of government players who are using terrorism, and child abuse and other things as excuses to control beyond what would be necessary to make sure that we are protected from violence and abuse. So, yeah, I think the tendency is for less rather than more freedom of access and freedom of expression on the Internet.

      Vasil Pefev, telerik.com, Bulgaria: It should be more open and accessible because, first of all, there are still countries which do not have access to it as much as Europe and the United States. So while they develop their Internet networks and infrastructures more people will have access to it. As far as accessibility goes, I predict that we will see more actions taken towards the Internet being more accessible by people with disabilities, such as blind people, for example. Right now they’re pretty much lost. There are screen readers that are not very well developed. There are no voice commands, for example, that you can use to control the Internet. So I think this is an emerging way, which we will soon need to discuss.

      Kurt Lindqvist, CEO of NetNod, Sweden: I think there are great dangers ahead, but I think that the Internet will prevail because the promise of the Internet is the openness and the transparency. I don’t think it has as much appeal if you start building barriers and fragmentation. It’s never going to reach the same value that you have today.

      Dmitry Kohmanyuk, Country Code Top-Level Domain, Ukraine: I think Internet will be more accessible and there will be way more ways to use the Internet. And also I think it will be less fragmented than now, but also I believe it will be more personal, meaning less anonymous, and proabably more aggregated, meaning less free.

      Julia Mortyakova, the Right to Research Coalition, US: I think it will definitely be more open, or at least that’s my hope because, especially, with the coming of the mobile phones and the mobile revolution in general obviously more and more people are online more frequently. Of course issues of access are do they have the money to afford access and things like that, but I’m thinking maybe as time progresses access will be cheaper and more people will be able to afford it. Maybe some day it will be free.

      Joonas Makinen, Pirate Youth of Finland: I actually suppose that in five years there will be quite some unexpected developments in this network because there are already people who are sort of developing Internet 2 and stuff like that. And it will be fragmented because the current trend, a very tough trend, is that many organizations – many places of power that are not used to people communicating along with each other, sharing ideas and criticizing things – they are driving a lot of censorship filtering and so on. I don’t think we can encounter this very soon, of course I hope not, but it will drive people underground. That means there will be dark nets, there will be closed networks, anonymization, all sorts of ways to get away from the mainstream Internet. This will be a little harmful fragmentation, but people will always find a way around censorship.

      Maya Ganesh, independent researcher, Bombay, India: I really don’t know. There’s enough evidence right now for saying that five years from now you’re going to have a lot more control. The thing is, as much control as there is there are also points of resistance and counter-resistance to control of various kinds. That’s the nature of the Internet now, why is it going to be any different? The nature of the Internet is this constant tension, and conflict and struggle between openness and regulation. I think that’s going to be in place. Maybe the issues will be different, the arenas will be different, maybe there will be different flash points, but I think that tension is quite inherent to the Internet itself.

      Sean Ang, Southeast Asia Center for E-Media, Malaysia: For countries in Southeast Asia I don’t think it will be better. The future of the Internet is essentially dependent on two things. Number one is the culture and number two, the most important factor, is the government. In Southeast Asia we have governments like the communists of Vietnam and the junta of Burma, even countries like Malaysia and Singapore. They want to hang on to power. They are very worried any parties will snatch power from them. So the Internet became a very efficient tool for any groups to question the authority and also to challenge the authority, expose corruption, which will impact the operative power base.

      Marjolijn Bonthuis, adjunct director at ECP-EPN, The Netherlands: It could be in all different ways. I’m not very sure. I hope it will be the same as today, with, of course, with different questions, but I think the openness is one of the main things. And what you see at the IGF is because we have so many questions about security some people need to get more control, to make it more fragmented, to get more of a grip on it, but on the other hand, the controlling of the Internet makes it worth less. So let’s hope that it will be the same as today.

      Vytautas Butrimas, Ministry of National Defense, Lithuania: Five years from now and it’s very hard to see into the future but I can foresee – at this conference there’s a lot of stress on the goodness of the Internet and promoting the freedom to use it and to accept it. I’m coming from the Minister of Defense area and I know there are people behind the scenes working hard to make that Internet free. But that Internet is not a reflection of our society.

      We have good and bad people on that Internet, and there is going to be a real crunch time where the security issues are really going to need to be faced and addressed. And I know the more you go into security the freedom begins to be threatened, but just as we have streets in our cities, you need a police force to make sure that the drivers have licenses and they stop at the red lights, right now there are no police on the Internet, and people are doing pretty much whatever they want.

      There are good people who are behaving properly and they are making good positive use and positive contributions, but we have a criminal cyber economy growing right now, and it is almost out of control and it is crying out for some sort of action. I think in the next five years we’re going to meet this crisis and it’s really going to change the Internet one way or the other. It’s either going to fall apart because no one wants to manage it, it’s going to be unmanageable, it’s going to be too dangerous, like a jungle, or it’s going to be more managed and maybe some of this free access, freedom of use will be restricted. I think some balance will have to be arrived at.

      Charles Gaye, VP of Liberia Chapter of Internet Society, Liberia: Right now I can see the Internet evolving so rapidly and covering most parts of the world. Likewise to every good thing there is a negative side. So as the Internet continues to grow, more people are getting connected, likewise people are devising other ways to make the Internet bad. So who commit technical terrorism and stuff like that are making use of the Internet to accomplish their evil desires. So years from now there will be positive growth and there will also be a negative side of it.

      Alice Toomer-McAlpine, ChildNet and Radiowaves, UK: To be honest, obviously, I can’t predict that. I think the more progress is made at things like this and various conventions around the world and the more collaboration we have between industries, governments and different countries, I think hopefully it will become less fragmented and we will have more of a consolidated Internet community. So hopefully that is what will happen.

      Mindaugas Glodas, Microsoft Country Manager, Lithuania: This is probably the most difficult question now that everyone is trying to answer. The Internet started and still is probably the least regulated system of this size globally. With the current terrorism dangers and other issues I believe there’s a strong push, a strong tendency to regulate, to have some censorship and to have some access to actually have a look to see what data is circulating, and I personally believe that we need some level of control, some level of ability to actually check and go after the evils of this world. But we should definitely not overdo it, like it is already happening in some other countries. But frankly I don’t know where the limit is. I think it will just happen one way or the other.

      Xu Jing, Peking University School of Journalism, China: I think five years from now the Internet will be more open and accessible in China because we can see the attitude and the actions of the Chinese government. They really did a lot of things. Now the Internet has become more open In China actually. We have some pressures [applied] to freedom of speech in some ways, but we can find the government is becoming more open. They publish their documents online and they are responding to the netizens online. I have found they did a lot.

      Carla Wetherell, youth IGF representative from the UK: I’d like to hope that it’s more accessible for more people because there are so many people who don’t even know how to use the Internet or have never been online. So I’d like to think that it’s more accessible and that it would be open to more people and that it will grow.

      – Interviews were conducted by Samantha Baranowski, Kirsten Bennett and Drew Smith, researchers from Elon University’s School of Communications, under the supervision of Glenn Scott, associate professor, and Janna Anderson, associate professor and director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon. 

      – The transcript of these video interviews was prepared by Lindsay Fendt,
      a student researcher with the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University

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